Absolutely Positively Not, by David Larochelle
Absolutely Positively Not is a book about being gay (or not). I absolutely loved the short chapters. Proof Cheryl Klein (at Levine) didn’t edit it since she snarked at me once about having short chapters. She’d never let these wee chaps make it to publication. Anyhow, the voice. A little annoying, honestly. Too much internal ramble. What about showing? Like there’s a lot of Stephen telling us all about his internal struggles, but couldn’t things have been shown through conversation, subtext, what’s not said?
Take the above issue and add in humor. Take the library scene where Stephen is looking for books about sexuality. If you’re going for humor why not have Stephen ask the librarian with golf-bag arms for books on sexuality instead of the overblown slapstick fake cough bit?
Stephen’s attempts at fitting in with social norms are so valiant and honorable. I expect this book got some negative press because of its subject, but who could hate a guy who goes to such great lengths to not be gay? Done exceptionally well, and funny too.
Aversion therapy with the rubber band. Now that is funny.
But Stephen’s coming out rang false. Rachel (his female friend) has such stereotypical parents—uber-open-minded, tree-hugging liberal, versus Stephen’s pick-up-truck, ice-fishing, traditional parents. Why are stereotypes like this “acceptable” when most others are not? But the “So Elton John is gay, huh?” line made me laugh, so I forgave the whole coming out chapter and moved on.
Also the switch from testing gayness to being gay seemed abrupt to me, but the telling of the parents worked. One thing’s for sure: Stephen has me wrapped around his finger. I love this guy. And I loved the ending. Thoroughly satisfying.